Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might want to start thinking about the next stop in his NFL career. A year after the team drafted Jordan Love with its first-round pick, there is growing belief across the NFL that Rodgers’ days are numbered in Green Bay.
The Packers shocked the NFL world when they traded up to take Love with the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, receiving instant criticism from NFL fans and general managers. Just months after reaching the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay seemingly ignored its Super Bowl window and focused on preparing for a future when it hopes to compete.
Rodgers led the team back to the NFC title game this past season, winning his third NFL MVP award in the process. After proving he could still play at the highest level, many assumed he would receive a new contract. Instead, he cast doubt on his future with the team and the club’s CEO refused to make a long-term commitment to the future Hall of Famer.
With the Packers’ front office seemingly unwilling to make their star more than a “lame-duck” quarterback, there is now increasing belief from those around the team that Rodgers’ future in Green Bay is already decided.
Will the Packers trade Aaron Rodgers?
In a recent mailbag for The Athletic, Packers’ beat reporter Matt Schneidman weighed in on Rodgers’ next few years of his NFL career. The three-time NFL MVP will be under center for Green Bay in Week 1, but his future beyond that is extremely uncertain.
Schneidman wrote that the first realistic opportunity for a trade will come next offseason. With the Packers not restructuring Rodgers’ contract, his 2022 cap hit will be lower than it is now and less guaranteed money makes it easier to move him. As a result, if the organization believes Love is ready to take over, the Packers’ front office could seriously start exploring its trade options.
It ties into a belief many executives within the NFL hold. A blockbuster trade was always viewed as unlikely this offseason, but it’s a realistic possibility next spring. If Rodgers repeats his success from 2020, playing at an MVP-caliber level, that might not necessarily ensure his return.
As Schneidman notes, Green Bay could view it as an opportunity to deal him for multiple first-round picks and the start of a foundation to build around Love. Even if they commit to Rodgers for the 2022 NFL season, though, it might still be his final season with the team.
The Packers will need to decide in the 2023 offseason whether or not to exercise the fifth-year team option on Love. If they do, making his salaries for 2023 and 2024 fully guaranteed, it all but guarantees he would take over as the starter. If they don’t Green Bay is acknowledging it badly whiffed on its 2020 first-round pick.
Schneidman doesn’t think Rodgers finishes his career with the Packers and that sentiment is shared across the league. Ultimately, fans might need to be prepared for the 2021 season being Rodgers’ farewell tour in Green Bay.